This is not the first 360-degree camera that GoPro released, the first one being GoPro Fusion. GoPro MAX is currently one of the best picks when it comes to 360-degree cameras on the market, it has tons of great features and many upgrades, such as 6 microphones.
There are some downsides, such as video quality, but if you are looking for a 360-degree camera, then you shouldn’t think twice before buying GoPro MAX.
It’s been 2 years since GoPro released this camera and it’s still the most expensive GoPro you can buy, but as I mentioned, it’s one of the champions in its category.
GoPro MAX: Detailed Review
Key Features & Specs:
GoPro MAX: Design
At first glance, GoPro MAX looks good, but it’s not just that it has a nice aesthetic design, GoPro MAX is also firm. It has lenses on both sides of the body but only one display screen on one side. It has a rubberized body that adds some protection from hits and debris, but that doesn’t help a lot since the display screen or lenses can still get damaged.
A great feature that GoPro MAX shares with HERO8, HERO9, and Fusion, is that it has a built-in mounting, reducing the need for housing. GoPro MAX is compatible with all the official GoPro accessories such as 3-way, Chesty, Suction Cup, Head Strap, etc. Which all expand its possibilities even more.
Depending on the hobby you are interested in, you might take a look at our article on the best GoPro Accessories, to pair the one that suits you the most with your GoPro MAX.
The body itself is taller than the one of HERO8 or HERO9 but they are both a little wider than MAX. GoPro MAX is not compatible with any mods like HERO8 or HERO9 but it makes up for it.
For example, Media mod is a perfect choice if you are looking for a way to improve the audio recording qualities of your HERO8 or HERO9, but MAX already has 6 built-in microphones which provide you with great audio already.
On the other hand, HERO8 or HERO9 don’t have a built-in front screen as MAX has so they require the Display mod.
Even though MAX has nice protection in terms of rubber body, its lenses are very delicate compared to the one of GoPro Fusion. It doesn’t have removable lenses, and they aren’t as scratch-proof as the one of HERO8. But it does come with extra rubber lens guards for when you aren’t using the camera.
With its protective lenses, GoPro MAX is waterproof to up to 5 meters, which is a downgrade from the GoPro Fusion. So overall, GoPro MAX has some level of protection, but you should be careful with it, which is an important downside. You shouldn’t pick GoPro MAX if you are planning to record a high-impact sport as you might damage it, and the camera itself isn’t that cheap.
Buttons and compartments
To be honest, there aren’t too many buttons and the commands are pretty straightforward. There is a record button on top of the camera which can fire up a preset that you can customize before you start recording. On the left, there is a power/mode button that switches on the camera but also cycles through the shooting mods.
The battery component on the right side contains a microSD card slot and a USB-C port. USB-C port allows you to transfer data at the speed of 480mbsp which allows you to transfer gigabytes of your footage, very fast. Compared to GoPro Fusion, a massive improvement is that GoPro MAX only has one microSD slot, which means, less chance of data corruption, easier to backup, and faster data transfer.
GoPro MAX Recording Videos
And now, the most interesting part of GoPro MAX. MAX is a 360-degree camera record in 5.6K in all directions. Just like all GoPro cameras, MAX has amazing stabilization which makes your footage look extra smooth.
The details of the footage are very noticeable in the center of the lens and lower towards the stitch-line. This happens with all 360-degree cameras and it’s not something you should worry about, but it is useful to have that in mind.
But that stitch-line is only a minor downside. Compared to both its competitors and its predecessor GoPro Fusion, MAX is really the best among them, providing you with quality 360-degree footage and much richer colors.
It also has much prettier colors and more features than its competitors.
Using it as a traditional single-lens camera has a lot of disadvantages. It just can’t compare to HERO8, as its maximum resolution in which you can record in 1080p at 16:9 aspect ratio and 1440p at 4:3 aspect ratio. While recording in 360-degree, the maximum FPS you can record in is 30, that changes when you record in 1080p as it allows you to record in 60 fps which is a great thing.
Overall, single-lens videos don’t look all that bad, it’s a secondary job of this camera yet they look fine.
GoPro has software tools, for both smartphones and desktops, that expand your possibilities with GoPro MAX even more, for example, you can convert your 360-degree video into a flat video in different aspect ratios. Aspect ratios that are available are the usual 16:9, 1:1, 4:3, and 9:16.
How long can you record?
An upgrade from the GoPro Fusion is that, instead of 2 microSD card slots, GoPro MAX has one, which means that the recordings from both lenses, go into one microSD card. GoPro Fusion had to have 2 microSD cards before you could record, which was a huge downside. The card slot is behind a removable side door as we mentioned earlier.
The battery of GoPro MAX allows you to record 360-degree videos for about 85 minutes or 105 minutes of single-lens videos.
There are overall 4 digital lenses(formerly called FOV) in which you can record depending on the shooting mode you are recording in MAX SuperView, Wide, Linear, Narrow. Each of these allows you to emphasize different things in your footage, through experience, you will find out which is perfect for what situation.
GoPro MAX Other Features
One of the things that are often praised when it comes to GoPro MAX is the Interface. Is fast and responsive, yet it’s also much easier to use than the one from the GoPro Fusion. You can easily switch from HERO mode to 360 mode by tapping the mode button and then switch between the front and back camera by tapping the camera in the bottom right corner of the screen.
The GoPro MAX controls are as intuitive as using a smartphone and every beginner can easily get along and use it.
GoPro is great when it comes to compatibility with Android and IOS apps, and it is shown that it’s reliable with both HERO8 and HERO9. However, GoPro MAX requires a little bit more time and processor power, since of course, we are talking about 360-degree video.
Our tests have shown that the GoPro app is much more reliable on iOS than it is on Android, which unfortunately makes it a much better pick if you are an owner of an Apple phone rather than an android. However, a desktop app is still an easier choice.
A great feature regarding the GoPro app is the keyframe selection, making it much easier to edit.
Unfortunately, we have to admit that GoPro software is much more responsive and useful with Mac and iOS than it is with Windows and Android.
GoPro MAX: Final Verdict
This is simply the best 360-degree action camera that you can buy, both as a professional and as an amateur. Even though the GoPro Fusion is an older model, GoPro MAX is just easier to use, and more versatile.
Not only great in terms of 360-degree video but also great in terms of single-lens video for the price of a 360-degree camera. Even though it’s not the perfect camera, it is the best in its category and still being great in single-lens footage.
On the other hand, desktop and Android apps for this camera expand your possibilities by a lot and help you edit the footage on the go.